Tomorrow, Friday, March 9th, the 2018 Winter Paralympics kick off in PyeongChang, South Korea. This year, 670 athletes will compete in six different disciplines. And although we’re rooting for Team USA all the way, the talent from all 46 competing countries will be impressive to behold. But when when do the 2018 Paralympics end? You have until March 18th to tune in and see the athletes at work.
The six disciplines showcased at the PyeongChang Winter Paralympics this year are Alpine Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Biathlon, Ice Hockey, Snowboarding, and Wheelchair Curling. There will be 80 medal events across all six disciplines.
Alongside hosting the games, the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee has also launched “Actualising the Dream”:
The first inkling of the Paralympic Games took place in 1948 at the Stoke-Mandeville Hospital outside London. 16 disabled patients participated in only one discipline — archery. But the event took off and by 1960, 400 athletes with disabilities from 23 countries competed at the Olympic Stadium in Rome.
At the beginning, the Paralympics were a strictly summer event. But in 1976, the first Winter Paralympic Games were held in Sweden. According to PBS.org, 198 athletes from 16 countries competed in “alpine and nordic skiing for amputees and visually impaired athletes,” and ice sledge racing was a demonstration sport.
Many of the athletes who take part in the Paralympics are former Olympic athletes who have survived accidents or illnesses that have left them with physical disabilities. One such competitor is South African Natalie du Toit. Du Toit was preparing for her last Olympic games in 2001 when she was involved in a car accident that left her with only one leg.
She continued her training, and in 2004 and 2008 du Toit went on to win a total of 10 gold medals in both Paralympic swimming competitions.
The Paralympics promote a positive image for the physically disabled. Not only are these athletes proving that the physically impaired are capable of leading normal and successful lives, but they also prove that they can exceed expectations.